Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tennis Tuesday: Francis Tiafoe Wins 2014 Easter Bowl, Seeded #1 In Roland Garros Boys

Francis Tiafoe, followed up his December 2013 win of the Orange Bowl Under-18s (the most prestigious junior championship in the world) at age 15 with a win of the under-18 Easter Bowl (the equivalent of the U.S. junior championships) last month as the #1 seed.

The media is starting to pay more attention, as this lengthy Washington Post article reveals:
In a sporting narrative as improbable as that of Venus and Serena Williams, Tiafoe, the son of immigrants from the West African nation of Sierra Leone, has emerged as the nation’s most buzzed about tennis prodigy. 
In December, the Prince George’s County-born teen became the youngest player to win the Orange Bowl, the most prestigious international title for 18-and-under boys, achieving the feat at 15 — more quickly than even Federer, John McEnroe or Bjorn Borg managed. And when the French Open juniors tournament gets under way in Paris on June 1, Tiafoe (pronounced Tee-AH-foe) will be the top-seeded boy. 
In a country yearning for a home grown men’s tennis star, this puts Tiafoe under immense pressure to deliver on his promise, to justify the countless hours he has devoted to mastering the game and the hundreds of thousands of dollars that tennis center benefactors have invested in his young career. 
Or, as he puts it: “It’s not like everything was given to me. I had to really work hard for it and earn it.” But, he adds, “I’m very thankful for what I have. I don’t want to let anyone down.” 
In many ways, this broad-shouldered, 6-foot-1-inch phenom with eight-pack abs is still a boy. Tiafoe doesn’t yet drive, has a 9 p.m. bedtime and shaved for the first time in January. But he possesses a missile of a forehand, a full complement of shots and tactical savvy beyond his years.
6-foot-1 at age 16? Things are looking good for American tennis, maybe Francis will pick up the baton handed to him by Venus and Serena!

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